With drug usage appearing to be on the rise after a worrisome report that celebrity therapist Dr. Laura Berman’s teenaged son allegedly died of a drug overdose after obtaining illicit substances via social media, Ulster Prevention Council head Cheryl DePaolo weighed in on online drug trafficking and other drug usage trends during the pandemic.
DePaolo says that the biggest concern is not knowing how many teens are using during the pandemic. With little access to schools as most are fully online, this creates a wedge in ascertaining how problematic substance abuse is among students right now.
“It’s hard to tell what the trends are because usually we survey in the schools,” she said. “We haven’t been able to ask [students] because they haven’t been there to do the survey.”
During the last survey, DePaolo found that students are ordering drugs and alcohol online, despite steady decreases of substance use rates among youth.
“Historically, what we know is that because youth would be home before the parents would come home, they’d intercept these packages in the mail,” said DePaolo. “Usually, they come from overseas somewhere.”
Increased levels of stress can lead to increased drug use among youth, which can lead to a recipe for disaster during a time of social isolation, according to DePaolo.
“Stress and mental health like we’re seeing with COVID can lead to substance abuse and substance abuse can also lead to mental health issues,” she said. “So it’s really important to look at them both hand in hand.”